Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best Books of 2011

I’ve read 80 or so books thus far into 2011, and I will post a list of my favourites by genre after Christmas. For now, here’s a list of my favourite books actually published this year that I have either read, or am currently reading. (For those of you who’ve already opened your book giftcards, and looking for inspiration.)

In no particular order:

1. The Pastor: A Memoir
A beautiful memoir, full of great stories, insight and humour. 2. Salvation Means Creation Healed: The Ecology of Sin and Grace
A comprehensive exposition on the need to widen the scope of what we mean when we talk about “salvation.” Wonderful. 3. Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor
A must read for anyone who feels overwhelmed both by what is wrong in the world and by doing the laundry. 4. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
I heard him speak on preparing for the second half of life at the Wild Goose festival, and suspect this is the book that will cause me the most reflection in the coming months. 5. The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom
The sermon on the mount observed through the lenses of the life of Saint Francis and his own community. 6. Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts
Another beautiful memoir, a deeply personal narrative of the search for home and redemption. 7. Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love
Experiments in spiritual formation from a creative and generative practitioner. 8. Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine
The always provocative Rollins explores the ways we use religion to keep us from encountering the God of whom Jesus felt forsaken, and thus so often forego the liberating experience of resurrection. 9. The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
Beginning with the question, ‘Did Jesus preach the gospel?’, McKnight takes on the narrow understanding many have of “the gospel”. 10. Christians and the Common Good: How Faith Intersects with Public Life
A much needed call to a faith and politics that is focused on comprehensive human flourishing rather than partisan interests.

And in fiction:

1. Doc: A Novel
A cracking re-telling of the life of Doc Holliday. 2. In the Rooms
Laugh out loud funny, utterly unsentimental portrayal of addiction and the literary world. 3. Divergent
For anyone who enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy.

(Full disclosure – several of these authors were already or have become friends, which no doubt has influenced my enjoyment of their writing.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This Christmas – buy once, gift twice

WMF Bolivia

An idea has been rumbling around in the back of my mind for a while, and a few days ago it burst forth with a rare degree of creative clarity. I had been thinking about offering to sign and mail copies of “The Story of God, the Story of Us” to people who were looking for Christmas gifts for friends, family, teachers, pastors etc.

Then our friend Andrea Baker stopped by to visit a couple of weeks ago. Andrea and her husband Andy are field directors for Word Made Flesh in Bolivia. For the past decade they have worked alongside their friends on the streets in El Alto, and offered alternatives to women caught up in the sex industry. The cost of living has more than tripled during that time, and their regular support is no longer adequate for the work they are doing, let alone to further develop the business that is helping their friends get off the streets. Andrea was in the States to receive an award for her work with the least of these, recognition of the kind of service that is the heartbeat of Word Made Flesh, whose staff embody the Story of God.

So here’s my idea.

In the season when we prepare for the mystery of the Word made flesh (John 1:14), we want to give you an opportunity to give two gifts at the same time. We have bought a bunch of copies of the book from our publisher. Gift #1: I would love to sign and mail books out to those of you looking for Christmas gift ideas. We’re asking a minimum of $20 per book (incl. shipping). Here’s why. Gift #2: We will give all the net proceeds to Word Made Flesh Bolivia, and Rebecca and I will match the first $500 raised.

This is how it works:

1. Email me at sean.gladding@gmail.com with the number of books you’d like, the names of the recipients, and the address you’d like me to ship them to.

2. I’ll reply and let you know where to send the check. Once I receive your check, I’ll mail your books!

3. Final date for shipping is December 15th. After that, we’ll send a check for the total amount raised to WMF.

Thanks for helping us support the work of Word Made Flesh Bolivia this Christmas.

(An FYI. The executive directors of WMF, Chris and Phileena Heuertz have written books about life and mission that are well worth reading: Friendship at the Margins, Simple Spirituality and Pilgrimage of a Soul)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A neighbourhood valentine's video

Our friend Felice put together a short video that captures a little of what we love about our life in the East End. Enjoy!